Testing times for the 11 Plus

September 25, 2018

Over 2,000 parents answered a selection of 11 Plus questions – but none got full marks! Find out what areas they found most challenging…

Person answering 11 plus questions with paper and pen

We challenged parents with a quiz covering grammar, verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning and mathematical reasoning to give them a taster of what primary school children undertake in the 11 Plus. The average score was just 3.5 out of 10, while even top-scoring parents only got half correct.

Shapes were a clear sticking point, as only a third (38%) could find the volume of a prism.

Two-thirds of parents also found prepositions puzzling as only one in three (34%) were able to correctly identify one as “under the duvet” in this sentence: “The kitten, who had been hiding under the duvet, pounced suddenly.”

But parents did fare better with verbal reasoning, with almost all (95%) identifying the following correctly:

These three letters on their own will make one correctly spelt word, without changing the order. Identify the three-letter word from the options given below.

The chickens roamed around the FYARD.

  • all
  • arm (correct answer)
  • leg
  • ram
  • toe

In an independent survey of 2,000 parents commissioned by Explore Learning, one in five (18%) parents said their child doesn’t receive enough support from their school in advance of exams. Despite 62% of parents worrying about their child’s stress levels with the amount of tests they have to do at primary schools today, most (94%) think that three months or less is enough time to prepare for an 11 Plus or Entrance Exam.

To help parents and children preparing for entrance or 11 Plus exams, Charlotte Gater, Head of Curriculum at Explore Learning has put together a few tips:

Start early  

When considering entering your child for the 11 Plus or a school entrance exam, it can be challenging to know what preparation to do with them and when. Even though 94% of parents thought that three months or less is enough time to prepare, a massive 99% of parents who had gone through the process said they would have liked their child to have started preparing earlier. My advice is to practise over a long period, working with children from an early age; developing their core maths and English skills will help them to excel in school and in their exam.

Work towards specifics

One to two years before children sit the exam, start looking at content specific to the test. This amount of time is ideal as it’s not so long that the content is too advanced or a child gets tired of focusing on the exam, and it’s not too short so that the child gets overwhelmed and stressed about trying to learn everything in a short space of time.

Content first, speed second

As you move closer to the 11 Plus, working on exam techniques will help your child tackle the assessment fearlessly. It’s a good idea to work on the content first and then focus on speed later once they are confident with their answers. Thinking about tackling questions they are more confident with as a priority, re-reading questions that they don’t understand the first time and going back to put in answers wherever possible for those they have left out will stand them in good stead.

At Explore, we don’t believe in simply ‘teaching to a test’. After all, the test is just the very beginning of your child’s journey into their secondary career! Find out more about our 11 Plus tuition and how we can help your child every step of the way.



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